They’re back in school. Do you know what your tweens are really up to? A guide for parents.
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18% of eighth graders have experimented with marijuana at least once
Our source: a National Institute on Drug Abuse study. Also alarming is news that girls are now trying the drug more than boys are.
What you can do: Research shows that kids are 36 percent less likely to smoke marijuana if they learn about the risks from their parents, so talk to your child. And don't wait-experts say that some kids use drugs for the first time at age nine.
A good way to begin the dialogue: "Have you heard kids talking about drugs at school?" (Responding to a survey on goodhousekeeping.com, 45 percent of tweens said that some classmates sold drugs.)
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48% of seventh graders admitted copying homework
Our source: a Rutgers University survey. Afraid your tween might be cheating?
What you can do: Don't address what your child did, say experts; address the possible motives.
One common reason kids copy: They don't really want to be dishonest, but they just don't understand the subject matter. If that's the case, go over the homework with your child every night, making sure she grasps the concepts. Another possible motive is that the child manages time poorly and then gets hopelessly behind.
The solution: Teach your tween how to organize and prioritize the workload.
40% spend their lunch money on junk food
Our source: GH's online survey. What you can do to help kids make smarter choices:
* Stock up on good-for-you snacks. The more kids eat healthy food at home, the more they'll seek it out in other settings.
* Limit TV time. Studies show there's a connection between how much television kids watch and how much junk they eat.
The good news: As of fall 2006, schools using the federal government's lunch program are required to create a policy to meet nutrition standards. And by 2010, sodas won't be sold in middle schools.
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45% aren't thinking about school even when they're there
Our source: GH's online survey.
What they think about most when they're tuned out: Twenty percent are focused on after-school plans; 12 percent, on popularity; and 13 percent, on dating. One eighth grader from Florida confessed, "I usually space out and think about what might happen in my future."